Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Tuesday, December 13. All times are Eastern.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Freeform, 9 p.m.): Last year, ABC Family rebranded itself as Freeform in an effort to appeal to millennials, or, as ABC likes to call them, “Becomers.” And if there’s one thing Becomers love, it’s the annual 25 Days Of Christmas programming block, which continues to be a yuletide tradition over at ABC Family… er, Freeform. Becomers—who also love a good joke—will no doubt be drawn to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, if only to see how creative the network can get when censoring a fairly raunchy holiday film. Will Freeform keep Clark Griswold’s line about his “yule log” as he flirts with a lingerie saleswoman at the mall? Will he still reference Bing Crosby tap-dancing with “Danny fucking Kaye?” And where’s he going to put a Christmas tree that big, now that his neighbor’s rear end is off the table? Hallelujah! Holy smokes! Where’s the Tylenol?
American Housewife (ABC, 8:30 p.m.): Back in October, Gwen Ihnat had good things to say about the first season of American Housewife in her pre-air review. We admittedly haven’t checked in with the show since then, but we’re nonetheless intrigued by tonight’s episode for its title alone, “Krampus Katie.” Does this mean Katy Mixon’s protagonist will transmogrify into the folkloric Christmas demon—her tongue forking, her forehead sprouting horns, her hands suddenly filled with birch switches for which to punish her children? It would certainly make for a memorable fall finale.
Premieres and finales
The Middle (ABC, 8 p.m.): We of The A.V. Club often get a good deal of guff for no longer covering The Middle, so consider its mention here an early Christmas present from the What’s On Tonight team. In the midseason finale, Sue has a holiday secret, Brick avoids the neighbor’s kids, and Mike isn’t sure how to react when he receives his first Christmas gift ever from Bill. We’d usually insert a joke here about one of our writers covering it, but that would be an outright lie, and we want to stay on TV Santa’s nice list. We hear he’s a real hardass!
Fresh Off The Boat (ABC, 9 p.m.): Speaking of ABC sitcoms that we no longer cover, Fresh Off The Boat has its Christmas-themed midseason finale tonight as well. In it, the Huangs accidentally leave Evan home alone while they’re all out at the movies. We’re hoping that means at least one shot of Ian Chen patting his cheeks with aftershave and screaming into the mirror.
The Real O’Neals (ABC, 9:30 p.m.): Noticing a trend here? The Real O’Neals airs its own midseason finale, “The Real Christmas,” in which “Eileen will stop at nothing to win the Christmas Choir competition.” “Stop at nothing” sounds pretty intense, but that’s Eileen for you.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox, 8 p.m.)
WWE Smackdown! Live (USA, 8 p.m.)
New Girl (Fox, 8:30 p.m.)
TheYear Without A Santa Claus (Amazon Prime): One of the stranger entries in the Rankin/Bass holiday canon, The Year Without A Santa Claus still wins for its empathetic elves, ragtime-y songs, and mystery-solving Kris Kringle. Or, if you prefer the 2006 live-action remake starring John Goodman as Santa, Delta Burke as Mrs. Claus, and Michael McKean and Harvey Fierstein as the Miser Brothers, you can nab a DVD copy of it on Amazon for a cool five bucks (emphasis on the “cool”). On paper, that’s actually pretty good casting, even if the final product leaves us, um, cold.